Apr 13, 2014
"One interpreter writes that it is tempting to compare Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with the triumphal marches glittering with pomp and ceremony as we know them from the pages of Roman history. Jesus too is a victorious sovereign. His power is apparent to all. Cheering crowds surge towards the Omnipotent One, and the breath of divinity is in the air. And yet — suppose a high-ranking Roman officer in shining armor had trotted by just then on his blooded mount, his orderly troop behind him, a fragment of that great army which bore the power of Rome across the world. What would he have thought had he seen the poorly dressed man on his donkey, a coat as a saddle, the heterogenous crowd about him? The thought hurts, but that is how it was. This then is how it is when God descends to men!"
— Romano Guardini, The Lord

"One interpreter writes that it is tempting to compare Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with the triumphal marches glittering with pomp and ceremony as we know them from the pages of Roman history. Jesus too is a victorious sovereign. His power is apparent to all. Cheering crowds surge towards the Omnipotent One, and the breath of divinity is in the air. And yet — suppose a high-ranking Roman officer in shining armor had trotted by just then on his blooded mount, his orderly troop behind him, a fragment of that great army which bore the power of Rome across the world. What would he have thought had he seen the poorly dressed man on his donkey, a coat as a saddle, the heterogenous crowd about him? The thought hurts, but that is how it was. This then is how it is when God descends to men!"

— Romano Guardini, The Lord

Apr 9, 2014

"Any reasonable ordering of the books must have The Last Battle as the final story, and must place Prince Caspian before The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader,’ since the latter is very straightforwardly a sequel to the former. Also, The Silver Chair cannot come before either of those books, since one of its main characters, Eustace, appears in Dawn Treader as a younger and very different sort of person from the one he is in The Silver Chair. Moreover, readers of the series will probably agree that The Horse and His Boy, being a largely self-contained story with minimal connections to the others - it is mentioned briefly in The Silver Chair, and the Pevensies appear in it briefly as rulers of Narnia - could be stuck into the sequence anywhere except the beginning and end. So the dispute really concerns only one question: should the sequence begin with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Magician’s Nephew?

The argument for The Magician’s Nephew is simple: since it describes Aslan’s making of Narnia, placing it at the beginning yields a biblical, Creation-to-Apocalypse arc for the series. The case for The Lion is more complex and much stronger. First of all, though Lewis spoke of altering the order of the books, he also spoke of needing to revise the books in order to remove inconsistencies - and if Nephew is read first, there will be many such inconsistencies. For one thing, we are told quite explicitly at the end of The Lion that its narrative is ‘the beginning of the adventures of Narnia’. For another, Lewis tells his readers that the children in The Lion do not know who Aslan is ‘any more than you do’; but of course the readers would know Aslan if they had already read Nephew. Moreover, much of the suspense in the early chapters of The Lion derives from our inability to understand what is happening in the magical wardrobe - but if we have read Nephew we will know all about the wardrobe, and that part of the story will become, effectively, pointless. Similarly, one of the delights of The Lion is the inexplicable presence of a lamp-post in the midst of a forest - a very familiar object from our world standing curiously in the midst of an utterly different world - and one of the delights of Nephew is the unexpected discovery of how that lamp-post got there. Anyone who begins with Nephew will lose that small but intense pleasure, the frisson of one of Lewis’s richest images.

If Lewis really and truly thought that the series was best begun with The Magician’s Nephew, he was simply mistaken. The original order of publication is the best for any reader wishing to enter Narnia.”

Alan Jacobs, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” in The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis. (via giftsoutright)

(via ayjay)

Apr 7, 2014

Thomas Cranmer wanted one book and one liturgical “use” for one country. He wanted English folk to be able to go into any church in England on any given day and experience the same worship service in the same words. For a long time this desire of Cranmer’s was indeed realized—and more, it was possible to go into what came to be known as “Anglican” churches all over the world and hear the same beautiful cadences, which was something I doubt Cranmer ever expected. He was making a prayer book for his country, and expected that Christian worship in other countries would develop in varying ways according to those places’ liturgical requirements.

And indeed this is what happened. Every Anglican province in the world eventually decided that it needed its own prayer book—and as time went by and the English language altered and took various forms in various places, Anglicans felt that they needed to update those books. I don’t think that any of this would have surprised or even disappointed Cranmer—but it is a little sad nonetheless, because there is for many of us satisfaction in saying the same words that our predecessors in the Christian faith said. Any nostalgia I feel for that old prayer book is closely related to the way many Catholics feel about the old Latin Mass, or many Christians throughout the English-speaking world feel about the King James Bible.

Cranmer himself would, I’m sure, understand this nostalgia. But he would probably urge us to get over it.

Alan Jacobs
Apr 7, 2014
Apr 2, 2014

In addition to Tradition, another significant feature of high church worship is the importance of our bodies. In the Orthodox church our bodies are constantly involved. When we aren’t eating the Body and Blood of Christ, we are crossing ourselves, smelling incense, kissing icons, and prostrating. The Church in her wisdom realizes that we human beings are embodied and that our spiritual lives are not separate and distinct from our material existence. That I am made of matter, matters!

Implicit in this then is the idea that my biological sex matters. My being male is not inconsequential. Male and femaleness are part of what it means to be human, and to be human is to reflect the image and likeness of God. Our complementary nature is a reflection of the interpersonal personal relations of the Triune God. To say that our biological sex does not determine our “gender” then is to deny the significance of our bodies. Being biologically male, in the eyes of the proponents of the normativity of homosexuality, is of no consequence to who I “really” am. I find this to be an unacceptable divorce of spiritual and material faculties in man. Of course, in the fallen world, we find people with our material and spiritual qualities all mixed up and in contradiction. But that does not mean that is the way it ought to be.

Nathaniel Torrey, “Matter Matters”
Apr 2, 2014
Apr 2, 2014
I understand Christians like Ehrich feel torn. You have a political party offering you a reasonably sound position on sexual ethics and an unconscionable approach to poverty and the environment, and then you have one party offering you a reasonably sound position on poverty and the environment and an unconscionable approach to sexual ethics. But if you give up either half of the equation, you’ve lost something profound. Here is the secret: Christianity is radically countercultural and deeply politically inconvenient. It is no party’s friend because its kingdom is not of this earth. It can seek the good and accomplish good through the work of earthly institutions, but it is our job as Christians to hold the hard line and refuse to give up any portion of our ethics to make ourselves politically palatable. Ehrich is right to see an unbalanced focus in Christian discourse, but wrong to chalk it up t the weakness or supposed insignificant of the principles themselves instead of decrying a political system that makes perilous choices necessary.
Elizabeth Stoker, “The Church’s Split Ethical Focus”
Mar 31, 2014
Mar 31, 2014
Mar 30, 2014
Mar 25, 2014

What does the recognition of Jesus as the image of God do to our reading of male and female as the image of God? Does it supplement it or relativise it?

If we tend more towards the latter (and, yes, of course the range of options here is very much more complex than my simple binary suggests), might we be rather less ready to valorise the heterosexual couple as the normative form of human life (speaking of it as so easily as the ‘paradigm of society’)?

On the one hand, might we not instead tend to valorise celibacy – and regard (with St Paul) all marriage as some kind of ‘pastoral accommodation’? On the other, might we take the Body of Christ, the community of disciples caught up on the journey of discipleship and united in love, as the proper Christian ‘paradigm of society’ – and order our thinking about other human institutions, including marriage and the family, around that centre?

These sound like rhetorical questions, but they’re not really; the answer to each of them is quite likely to be a genuine, ‘Well, it’s complicated …’ And I realise that a public report is not the place to try to go into many of these complications. But if we ask what agenda the report sets for further deliberation, I think these questions need to be on the table – and possibly rather more prominent on the table than questions about biology.

Mike Higton, reflecting on the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission’s report “Men and Women in Marriage.” Would that all of our current churchly debates about sexuality were conducted with this level of theological care and passion.
Mar 25, 2014

Mary Szybist, “Annunciation: Eve to Ave”

The wings behind the man I never saw,
But often, afterward, I dreamed his lips,
remembered the slight angle of his hips,
his feet among the tulips and the straw.

I liked the way his voice deepened as he called.
As for the words, I liked the showmanship
with which he spoke them. Behind him, distant ships
went still; the water was smooth as his jaw—

And when I learned that he was not a man—
bullwhip, horsewhip, unzip, I could have crawled
through thorn and bee, the thick of hive, rosehip,
courtship, lordship, gossip and lavender.
(But I was quiet, quiet as
eagerness—that astonished, dutiful fall.)

Mar 25, 2014
Among this new set of kids, the free range is fairly limited. They don’t roam all that far from home, and they don’t seem to want to. Hart talked with a law-enforcement officer in the area, who said that there weren’t all that many transients and that over the years, crime has stayed pretty steady—steadily low. “There’s a fear” among the parents, Hart told me, “an exaggeration of the dangers, a loss of trust that isn’t totally clearly explainable.” Hart hasn’t yet published his findings from his more recent research, and he told me he’s wary of running into his own nostalgia for the Rousseauean children of his memories. For example, he said he has to be honest about the things that have improved in the new version of childhood. In the old days, when children were left on their own, child power hierarchies formed fairly quickly, and some children always remained on the bottom, or were excluded entirely. Also, fathers were largely absent; now children are much closer to their dads—closer to both their parents than kids were back then. I would add that the 1970s was the decade of the divorce boom, and many children felt neglected by their parents; perhaps today’s close supervision is part of a vow not to repeat that mistake. And yet despite all this, Hart can’t help but wonder what disappeared with “the erosion of child culture,” in which children were “inventing their own activities and building up a kind of community of their own that they knew much more about than their parents.”
Hanna Rosin, “The Overprotected Kid”
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About
My name is Wesley Hill. I am an assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.

I blog at SpiritualFriendship.org.

My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.



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